One thing everyone comments on is the pollution here. Lanzhou has been rightly criticized for its poor pollution record.
Nevertheless, between 2002 (when I first came to Lanzhou) and now, I feel that Lanzhou has improved considerably, especially in the summer months. As I type this, I can see blue skies and green hillsides off into the distance from my high-rise apartment.
The most recent available government statistics, show that in 2005, Lanzhou enjoyed “good” air quality for 65 percent of the time, which was slightly better than Beijing.
But then I saw this 2007 report, which put Lanzhou among a list of the world’s dirtiest 30 cities (Beijing nowhere to be seen, despite media coverage warning of risks to athletes during the Olympics). What do I know, eh?
Obviously, I’m no scientist. By all accounts the Yellow River faces big problems. If anyone is interested in learning more, or helping out, the Lanzhou-based Green Camel Bell NGO are quite approachable, and welcomes volunteers.
In 2006 they produced a ‘Lanzhou Green Map’, which “highlights the ecological conditions, natural scenic places, and cultural sites of the section of the Yellow River that runs through Lanzhou City.”
Chinadialogue has loads of articles about China’s environmental situation.